Our Islands, Our Future

This week, as the Maui Film Festival begins, movies will pay tribute to people who take effective action for a better world. It’s what the Film Festival Founder and Co- Director Barry Rivers said has been always been the focus of the annual event that entertains and enlightens Maui audiences. “The intent is to address issues that include the environment and the interpersonal relations of the people in the islands,” he said. “At the end of the day, we want to share a window on the world that they may not have seen yet.”

The Festival runs June 15-19, with movies playing at the Celestial Cinema in Wailea and at the Castle Theater at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center. More information is available at Children 12 and younger are admitted free on opening night and the closing day of film showings. There are also special events featuring award presentations for outstanding artists, actors and moviemakers, a Taste of Chocolate experience and a panel discussion by filmmakers. This year’s movie lineup includes six films with a Hawaii connection. All the movies attempt to entertain while seeking truth and shedding light on stories and issues, which is the core of the mission of the Maui Film Festival. “It is this belief in the power of creativity that gives the Maui Film Festival its character, its energy and its soul.”

Rivers and his wife, Stella, who live in Haiku, have received accolades for their event, now making its 12th run on Maui. The Celestial Cinema setting in Wailea is a deliberate part of the festival’s vision of showcasing movies in the natural beauty of the island. “Visitors and residents alike tell me that this is the most unbelievable movie-going experience,” Rivers explains, adding that many plan their vacation schedule or entertainment budget around the festival. Rivers credits sheer willpower and the passion and energy of some 300 people, many of whom are volunteers, for the success of the festival.